Reimagine the Garden Route & Klein Karoo this festive season
New regulations announced by the South African government means that beaches in the Garden Route have been closed to help combat the Covid-19 pandemic. But this incredible region has far more than just beaches on offer. Now is the time to reimagine your Garden Route experience this festive season.
This blog provides some of our top picks on how to best experience the Garden Route and Klein Karoo as safely as possible. From its glorious wide open spaces, incredible adventure experiences, sumptuous culinary culture, and locally produced artisanal gins and craft beers, there is still so much for you to experience and enjoy!
Eat in or eat out:
We mean this in the literal sense: grab a take-away from your favourite foodie spot, or pack your own basket of treats and head outside out to the wide-open spaces for a picnic. Jubilee Creek in the Millwood Forest is a wonderful location for lunch! If you want to pack a home- baked snack and the smell of banana cake sends chills down your spine, try some make blueberry muffins. You can even pick your own blueberries at Homtini Guest Farm in Rheenendal.
Still eager to taste the Garden Route and support local, grab some delicious dishes from these familiar favourites: East Head Café is an ideal breakfast spot in Knysna catering for all diets and dining areas. Alternatively, you can pick up snacks from a local bakery - Le Fournil de Plett or Knysna’s Île de Pain are known for their delectable pastries.
To taste the essence of the coastal towns, head over to Ristorante Enrico for some Seafood cuisine. The Lookout Deck also caters to the pescatarian palate and boasts a picturesque view. For a sweeter seaside treat, Ice Palazzo is an ice cream parlor well-known for its fresh and forever-changing flavours. Or for a romantic night, Nineteen89 and Nguni offer divine dining for you and your date. Traveling for work and pleasure? Cafe Pure in Plett is a digital nomad’s oasis with free wifi and good coffee. Lastly, if you wish to bring the Garden Route to your meals at home, The Potter (est. 1981) is a quaint shop that sells artistic china, ceramics and pots; a useful and aesthetic souvenir.
Craving some space or a new perspective?
One of the best ways to see the world differently is to gain another perspective. The Map of Africa View Point is one of George’s most famous spots. As its name may suggest, the lookout is a breath-taking sight. If you want to see the world rush past you, consider zip-lining through the picturesque Tsitstikama. To turn your world upside down, visit the world’s highest bungee from a bridge, above the Bloukrans River valley. There are many amazing adventures and outdoor activities across the area, from all heights and all depths!
If you like the sound of your own voice, you will love the expansive and echoing Cango Caves! Found at the foothills of the Swartberg mountain range near Oudtshoorn are a collection of caves, tunnels and chambers stretching over 4km. To explore these natural marvels safely, remember to book with and perhaps request a private visit for you and your home-mates only. Alternatively, to hone your listening abilities, explore Plett’s Puzzle Park; a family-fun activity full of mazes and forest walks. Rheenendal also has a fairy garden, putt-putt course and other games for the family to bond over.
All that flora and fauna
One of the most enjoyable activities for any and every age group, is to visit one of the many nature parks in the region. Getting in touch with the wildlife is a humbling and honorary experience. The Elephant Sanctuary in Knysna is amongst the top on the list. For more of your feathery friends, visit any of the many Ostrich farms in Oudtshoorn, or Plett’s Birds of Eden. Monkeyland in Plett is another amazing animal adventure. With various wildlife sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers populating the route, there is ample selection and variety.
Alternatively, if you would rather stick to your own furry friends, there are plenty of pet-friendly walks: Steenbok Nature Reserve on Leisure Isle, and Pledge Nature Reserve in the centre of Knysna, are your best bets.
Take a look at all the nature reserves on the Garden Route here: https://www.wesgro.co.za/travel/blog/nature-reserves-garden-route-and-klein-karoo
Looking for greener pastures?
A pristine golf-course may do the trick. With 3 incredible 18-hole courses in Knysna alone, there is ample space to get active in some fresh air and sun. Pezula Golf Course is located on the Knysna clifftops, with views of both the Indian Ocean and the Knysna Lagoon, Pezula makes the most of its surroundings. A challenging, and ultimately rewarding course, this is a course that will provide golfers of all levels with the complete experience. Also in Knysna, Simola Golf & Country Estate escapes the wind that can sometimes cause issues on a coastal course, and is arguably one most beautifully located courses in the province.
Then, in Mossel Bay, Pinnacle Point Golf Course was named South Africa’s best golf course in 2016, and is without doubt one of the most beautiful and unique in the world. Nestled along the coastline, just outside of Mossel Bay, and overlooking the Indian Ocean, the 72-par course is perhaps best characterised by the seven holes that line the rocky ocean cliffs.
Fancourt in George, meanwhile, is considered one of South Africa’s best golf courses, and designed by SA legend Gary Player, the Montagu course at Fancourt offers a typical parklands format. The Par 72 course is only available to members, their guests, and those staying at the resort, making it an exclusive experience for those playing. Facilities are world class and include a warm-up and practice area featuring a full-length range, as well as a chipping and bunker practice area.
For something less rigorous and more relaxing, take a stroll through any of the natures walks and trails the region has to offer. To reach greater heights, take a sunrise hike take avoid the harsh heat.
The Garden Route is one of the most picturesque regions globally and while you may have planned for a coastal getaway, you are still able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the beautiful towns by experiencing it in an entirely new way. The wide-open spaces and natural gems are truly some of Mother Nature’s best work. Here’s to a festive – and safe – holiday.